Jane Austen Society of North America, Southwest Region
Looser’s 2017 book
Barchas’ 2012 book
Barchas’ new book
What’s Next in Austen
December 7, 2019
University of Southern California
Town & Gown
Janine Barchas joined the University of Texas at Austin in 2002 after teaching at the University of Auckland in New Zealand for five years. She combines book history with literary criticism in both her research and teaching. She has twice been a fellow of the American Council of Learned Societies and has received the Alpha of Texas Award for Distinction in Teaching from the Phi Beta Kappa Society.
Her first book, Graphic Design, Print Culture, and the Eighteenth-Century Novel (Cambridge UP, 2003), won the SHARP prize for best work in the field of book history. This was followed by Matters of Fact in Jane Austen: History, Location, and Celebrity (Johns Hopkins UP, 2012). In addition, Barchas has published academic articles in journals such as ELH, Review of English Studies, Eighteenth-Century Life, Eighteenth-Century Fiction, Nineteenth-Century Literature, Persuasions and Modern Philology. She also writes pieces for the popular press, including essays in The New York Times, Washington Post and Los Angeles Review of Books.
Barchas’ latest book project is The Lost Books of Jane Austen, forthcoming from Johns Hopkins University Press in October 2019. It is an investigation into the early reception history of Jane Austen through the lens of her cheapest and most neglected reprintings. Years of book hunting revealed unknown versions of Austen’s novels that never made it into academic libraries or official bibliographical records due to their intolerable cheapness. Starting with shilling versions sold at Victorian train stations and book stalls during the 1840s, Barchas democratizes Austen’s reception with new data about unrecorded books targeted to working-class readers. She describes her project as “hard-core bibliography meets the Antiques Roadshow.” She published short previews of that research in essays for The New York Times and the Los Angeles Review of Books.
She is also the creator behind “What Jane Saw.” This website offers digital reconstructions of two museum blockbusters attended by Jane Austen: the Boydell Shakespeare Gallery in 1796 and the Sir Joshua Reynolds retrospective in 1813. The initial phase of “What Jane Saw” launched on 24 May 2013, or 200 years to the day that the Austens attended the Reynolds show. The second phase of the website launched in 2015, on 16 December, Austen’s birthday. If you would like to “hear” Barchas talk about this project, the Folger Shakespeare Library hosts a 30-min interview with her in the form of a podcast called Recreating the Boydell Gallery.
In 2016, Barchas co-curated the exhibition “Will & Jane: Shakespeare, Austen, and the Cult of Celebrity” at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington D.C. Co-curated with Kristina Straub (Carnegie Mellon University), this museum exhibition tracked the parallel afterlives of arguably the two most popular authors in the English language, asking how exactly they became celebrated as literary superheroes. “See” Barchas and Straub talk about “Will & Jane” and catch a glimpse of their exhibition in a five-minute short on YouTube made by the department. The New York Times praised their exhibition for mixing “deep scholarship with serious whimsy.”
She earned her BA from Stanford University and her PhD from the University of Chicago.
Devoney Looser (pronounced DEV-oh-nee LOE-sir) is the author of The Making of Jane Austen. She is Foundation Professor of English at Arizona State University and author or editor of seven other books on literature by women. Her recently writing has appeared in The Atlantic, The New York Times, Salon, The TLS and Entertainment Weekly, and she’s had the pleasure of talking about Austen on CNN twice.
She has authored three books: The Making of Jane Austen (2017), Women and Old Age in Great Britain, 1750-1850 (2008), and British Women Writers and the Writing of History, 1670-1820 (2000; 2005), all published by Johns Hopkins University Press. Her edition of Sense and Sensibility was published in the Penguin Deluxe Classics series in 2019. Her daily recommended dose of Austen quotations, The Daily Jane Austen, is forthcoming from the University of Chicago Press. She has edited The Cambridge Companion to Women’s Writing in the Romantic Period (Cambridge UP, 2015), Jane Austen and Discourses of Feminism (Palgrave Macmillan, 1995) and co-edited Generations: Academic Feminists in Dialogue (U of Minnesota Press, 1997). She recently co-edited the first modern edition of Jane West’s A Gossip Story (2015) for Valancourt Books. From 2004-2013, she served as co-editor of the Journal for Early Modern Cultural Studies, published quarterly by the University of Pennsylvania Press. She is on the advisory boards of a dozen journals, including SEL: Studies in English Literature, 1500-1900.
In 2018, Looser was named a Guggenheim Fellow in English literature, and a National Endowment for the Humanities Public Scholar, in support of her biography of the sister novelists, Jane and Anna Maria Porter. Looser has previously held fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Humanities Center, the American Philosophical Society, the Huntington Library, the Newberry Library and the New York Public Library, among others. In 2012, she led a National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Seminar for College and University Teachers at the University of Missouri on “Jane Austen and her Contemporaries.”
Looser, a Minnesota native, traded in her ice skates for roller skates in middle age and has played roller derby under the name Stone Cold Jane Austen. She lives in Phoenix with her husband, professor and literary scholar George Justice, and their teen sons. She’s on Facebook and Twitter @devoneyloooser & @Making_Jane. She posts patterened-legging selfies and super-serious Janeite content on Instagram at @devoneylooser & @makingjaneausten.